Friday, May 25, 2007

Ring Flash?

I've often thought I need to get myself a ring flash. I've spent a fair amount of time searching out various ring flash options on the web. I've examined this ring flash and that ring flash but I always end up asking myself, "Do I really need to spend some of my hard-earned cash on a ring flash?"

Without exception, the answer has always remained the same: "No. I don't."

Certainly, I've seen plenty of excellent examples of ring flash-assisted, pretty girl photography. But then, I've seen just as many, actually more, excellent examples of pretty girl shooting that didn't include ring flashes in the lighting schemes.

I'm pretty sure Maxim magazine is mostly responsible for the current state of ring flash popularity. (Everyone wants to shoot those Maxim-looking shots, right?) Apparently, someone, at some point, decided to dust off their old ring flash while shooting for Maxim. Many young photographers, drooling over the models featured in Maxim, must have decided the best way to shoot a pretty girl is with a ring flash. After all, photographers for a magazine with Maxim's popularity must know something mere mortal shooters don't know. And perhaps that something might be a ring flash?

Then there's all the behind-the-scenes videos we've seen featuring well-known fashion or glamor shooters wielding a ring flash. Hmmm... that photographer must know something. After all, he or she is making a fairly excellent living with a camera. And look how excruciatingly beautiful the excruciatingly beautiful model looks being photographically captured with the help of a ring flash!

I've decided using a ring flash is more a stylistic approach to pretty girl shooting than anything else. And I've also decided using one isn't my style. That's not to say there's anything wrong with using a ring flash. It's more about what kind of results you're looking for. And the results a ring flash offers aren't what I'm personally looking to achieve. Yeah, there are uses for a ring flash which aren't, for the most part, stylistic, but that would mostly be accomplished by setting the ring flash off-camera, on a stand, and using it for some sort of fill. I already own gear that will accomplish that.

But who knows? My attitude about this might change. I might wake up tomorrow and decide a ring flash is right for me. I might decide the quality of light a ring flash produces is just what I'm looking for.

Personal aesthetics can be fickle that way.

The pretty girl at the top is Cassie. I shot Cassie a couple of days ago on a location shoot using my Canon 5D coupled to an 85mm, f/1.8, prime at ISO 100, f/5.6 @ 125. Two lights were employed for this shot: A 5' Photoflex Octodome for the main light and a medium, Chimera strip, behind her, camera-right. I also used a white reflector--one of those large, round, 5-in-1 jobs--to bounce in a bit of fill from the front, opposite the main light. I had set a small, rectangular, soft box, boomed-in high, over and behind her, for a hair-light, but it didn't fire for this capture. Oh well! I like the shot anyway-- Mostly because it conveys action, coupled with a sultry expression, while Cassie removed the rest of her dress.


Anonymous said...

How do you decide which light modifiers to use when you shoot? Octobox vs. Beauty Dish for main and Strip Boxes vs Umbrellas for accent and fill.

jimmyd said...

How do you decide which light modifiers to use when you shoot?

i'd like to say it's all technically or artistically driven but often it's a matter of convenience, how much time i have to set up my gear, the location, and, of course, what the client's expectations are.

examples: it's easier to transport the octodome then the dish (which doesn't fold up and tuck away); the physical dimensions of the room i'm shooting in; will i be shooting a lot of full-body shots vs. 3/4 shots and closer; other stuff like that.

i should note that umbrellas tend to be my last choice because they are so difficult to control.

James said...

I actually have a ring flash reflector. Blacar made them way back when. It's a softbox but the light mounts to the side of the box, not the back. There's a trap door in the back that allows you to shoot through the modifier. There's also an opaque diffuser I can put over the front to use as a regular soft box as well as a 40deg grid. It's about 1.5'x2'. I like it because it does double duty plus it was 1/4 the cost of the AB ringflash. Another nice feature is that I can pump as much light as I need into it, and it mounts to any 7" reflector. Good times.

EleganceAndChaos said...

I noticed that a lot of your images were shot at F5.6 rather than F8-F16 range preferred by a lot of other photographers. Is that just a personal preference or do you find that the sweet spot for your lense is at that aperture opening?

jimmyd said...

I noticed that a lot of your images were shot at F5.6 rather than F8-F16 range preferred by a lot of other photographers.

Mostly, I shoot around f/5.6 cuz I prefer a shallower DOF than those stopped-down, f/8-and-beyond, apertures produce.

Derek - TLV said...

Now you have me worried.....I have just bought an elinchrom ringflash and it is on its way....Ah well I think I will try and produce something you like Jimmyd

All the best

Derek - TLV